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More antibiotics could be key to battling antibiotic resistance, surprising study shows

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 08/09/2018 Sarah Knapton

© Provided by Getty Antibiotic resistance could be tackled by giving people a combination of drugs which no longer work on their own, a new study suggests.

Scientists have discovered thousands of drug cocktails which can fight bacteria even though bacteria may have grown resistant to them individually

Previously it was thought that the downside of combining antibiotics outweigh the benefit because of dangerous interactions.

But the University of California discovered around 8,000 combinations of four and five pills that are effective, a breakthrough which researchers say could be a major step forward in protecting public health.

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"I was blown away by how many effective combinations there are as we increased the number of drugs," said Van Savage, the study's other senior author and a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology and of biomathematics.

"People may think they know how drug combinations will interact, but they really don't."

Related: 13 Best Probiotic Foods For Your Gut Health (Provided by Health.com)

Health experts have warned that within 20 years even routine operations such as hip replacements and organ transplants could be deadly because of the risk of infection.

In Britain, at least 12,000 people die from antibiotic-resistant bugs each year, experts estimate - more than die of breast cancer.

For the new research, scientists looked at eight common antibiotics and analysed how every possible four and five drug combination, including with varying dosages, worked against e-coli.

The combinations worked together because individual medications have different mechanisms for targeting E. coli.

© Provided by Getty "A whole can be much more, or much less, than the sum of its parts, as we often see with a baseball or basketball team,” said Dr Pamela Yeh, one of the study's senior authors and a UCLA assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.

"There is a tradition of using just one drug, maybe two. We're offering an alternative that looks very promising. We shouldn't limit ourselves to just single drugs or two-drug combinations in our medical toolbox.

“We expect several of these combinations, or more, will work much better than existing antibiotics."

The research was published in the journal Systems Biology and Applications. 

Related: 16 things to know before starting an acne treatment (Provided by Insider)

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